The Advising Process: Building the Advising Relationship
The Jesuit tradition encourages faculty members to take a personal interest in each of their students, whether in the classroom or in an advising session. Fairfield's students have repeatedly stated that strong connections with faculty members contribute to their sense of belonging and their desire to persist academically at Fairfield.
The first and most important step you can take is to be available to advisees through regular office hours and e-mail messages.
Meeting with Advisees
Taking some time at each advising session just to chat with a student can build and maintain a close relationship. In addition to posing some of the reflection questions for students, you may want to ask about a student's high school experiences, hobbies, and extracurricular activities.
Some advisees may not feel comfortable, at least initially, with talking about themselves. Be guided by your advisee's inclinations; respect his or her privacy - but do elicit enough information about academic strengths, weaknesses, and goals to provide sound advice on course selection.
Finding Answers for Advisees
Some advisees may turn to you for advice on many different academic, and even personal, issues. If they do, that is a sign of their trust in you. But with all the educational opportunities Fairfield offers, no one faculty member can know the answer to every possible question an advisee might have. If you are not sure, admit that - but then model for your advisee how to find the answer, which is likely to be in the undergraduate course catalog or in the section on academic advising resources on the website.
Even if you do know the answer, rattling it off quickly may be less helpful than trying to determine why your advisee wants to know. Encourage reflection by asking for the reason behind the question. If your advisee wants to change majors, for example, ask why the proposed one is now more appealing: Did a particular course spark an interest?
By listening attentively to your advisees and urging them to reflect and explore Fairfield's resources and opportunities, you are not only gaining their trust - more importantly, you are helping them learn.